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15 October 2014
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"Pig Clubs", Supplementing Meat Rations

by newcastlecsv

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Contributed by 
People in story: 
Albert Henry (Harry) Thompson, John Campbell (Campbell) Thompson
Location of story: 
South Gosforth, Newcastle, Tyneside, County Durham and Northumberland
Background to story: 
Article ID: 
Contributed on: 
15 July 2005

This story was submitted to the People’s War site by a volunteer from Northumberland on behalf of Albert Henry (Harry) Thompson. Mr. Thompson fully understands the site’s terms and conditions, and the story has been added to the site with his permission.

One way of supplementing meat rations during the War years was to join a “Pig Club”. For centuries, gardeners and smallholders kept poultry and the odd pig or two for their own house use. The powers that be recognised that such practices would continue come what may, so they encouraged groups of people to form clubs, to buy, feed and look after pigs. The pigs were fed mostly with scraps from homes, cafés, bakeries, and anything edible that came to hand. Clubs were allowed to purchase, legally, small rations of feed or corn, to supplement this meagre diet. Also, the number of sacks of meal, etc, that “fell off the back of a wagon” was surprisingly large!

Harry's Father, J. Campbell Thompson, joined a Club that invested in a small pig farm at South Gosforth, a few miles north of Newcastle. The Club had about thirty members, mainly butchers, hauliers, or doctors. Forty to fifty pigs were kept on the farm.

Perhaps, ten pigs were slaughtered at any one time. When they were ready for slaughter, which was a big day in the life of the Club, half of the carcasses were sold to the Government, to help with the rationing, and the remainder was divided between Club members, as either pork or bacon. On formation of a Club, each member was called upon to contribute money and to care for the pigs. It was not unusual for those members who had been slow to help with the upkeep of the animal to be first in the queue when meat and bacon were being shared out!

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